British indoor 3000m champion on an emotional bronze medal in a race which saw Germany record a one-two
Melissa Courtney-Bryant might’ve been the first British athlete to claim a medal at the European Indoor Championships but it won’t be the last time you’ll tire of her inspiring comeback.
Two years ago, she was ruled out of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics because of a foot injury, which left Courtney-Bryant on crutches and devastated that she couldn’t attempt to qualify for what would’ve been her first Games.
She watched the 2021 European Indoor Championships at home on the TV in a boot and could only cheer on her fellow friends from the sofa.
If 2022 was a settler of a season – Courtney-Bryant finished 31st and 24th in the 1500m heats of the World and European Championships – then 2023 is the year she stamps her foot down and makes a mark on the international stage once again.
She had already proved a point by becoming British 3000m champion for a second time in Birmingham at the UKA Indoor Championships last month.
Now, Courtney-Bryant has gone one step further and added a second European indoor medal after the bronze she claimed at Glasgow 2019.
“I think it’s so much sweeter than last time,” Courtney-Bryant said, referring to her medal back in Scotland four years ago. “In 2019 I was over the moon to get a medal and so happy. This one feels really emotional because I’ve come through two really hard years of injury.
“Everyone who’s supported me through this, it’s meant so much and to be in the shape again to be fighting for championships medals means so much.
“This time last year I wasn’t training on the track and not fit enough. I’ve come a long way. Two years ago I was watching this event at home with crutches.”
Courtney-Bryant’s time of 8:41.19 in Istanbul wasn’t that far off her season’s best of 8:41.09, set at the speedy Boston track at the New Balance Grand Prix back on February 4.
Her ultimate aim for the 2023 season is to lower her 3000m outdoor record of 8:39.20. The fact that was recorded at the Alexander Stadium in 2018 shows how far Courtney-Bryant has come to get near those times once again.
Such is her mindset, Courtney-Bryant wanted more of herself in a race which saw a German 1-2 as Hanna Klein shocked Konstanze Klosterhalfen – European 5000m champion, world 5000m bronze medallist and German record-holder from the mile up to the 10,000m – with a stunning kick down the final 100m. Klein, a bronze medallist in this competition from 2021, recorded a personal best of 8:35.87 in the process.
“I’m a little bit disappointed as I know I’m in PB shape and there is a sub-8:40 in me, Courtney-Bryant added. “There were always going to be nerves at a championships race and but I’ve been out of being competitive for two years. So I think it’s about getting myself out there again.
“I’ll have a few easy days and then it’s back to training. I’ve got a few miles to train for with 5km and 10km work-outs and then I’ll open my season with a 5km. We’ll play it by ear which one [5km or 10km] I end up running.”
Fellow Brit Hannah Nuttall finished fifth in the 3000m and was delighted with her personal best of 8:46.30.
“Two years ago I was watching this European [Indoor] Championships at home with crutches and a boot.”
A return to the podium means a lot for @mcourtneybryant as she won bronze for GB in the 3000m at the Euro Indoor Champs 🇬🇧
🎙️ @TimAdams76 #Istanbul2023 pic.twitter.com/VcgBdJ9Rwq
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) March 3, 2023
“I’m really happy with a personal best in the championships, especially after the heats and such a pushy race. That’s worth a couple of seconds more. I can’t be disappointed with that.
“It started off really pushy and it was quite slow at the start. The two Germans just went after two or three laps and then it really sped up. It was all a bit of a shock and then we got rolling. The first few laps, I just tried not to go down.”
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